Abramoff Fox Guarding the Henhouse


More often than not, scandals in Washington run their course: apologies, resignations, jail time, followed by book deals and CNN interviews. But not the Jack Abramoff scandal. The Associated Press gives word that the former deputy chief of staff of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Robert Coughlin, is being charged for accepting gifts from Abramoff and his law firm as they tried to woo him to join their team.

In court papers filed Monday in federal court in Washington, prosecutors accused Coughlin of providing assistance to a lobbyist and the lobbyist’s firm while receiving gifts from the firm and discussing prospective employment there. The lobbyist isn’t named but The Associated Press has previously reported that Coughlin was lobbied during the period in question by Kevin Ring, a member of Abramoff’s lobbying team who also is under investigation.

In the spirit of the season: What makes this scandal different from every other scandal? Jack Abramoff was a central piece of a political power structure that funneled money from Indian tribes and American protectorates into the campaign coffers of high ranking and vulnerable members of Congress. Abramoff wasn’t just some joe selling himself for yachts and prostitutes, he made the money run on time. And apparently he was making the money, and tickets to the MCI Center, run into the Justice Department that eventually snared him.